AXE spreads “don’t bully, be a man” message to VHS with new campaign


Lola Bobrow

Last year, the men’s grooming product brand AXE traveled with spoken word performer Carlos Andres Gomez and musician John Legend to Legend’s hometown of Centennial, Ohio to bring a message of inclusivity and self-expression to high school students in their “Find your magic” initiative, aimed at encouraging high school aged boys to accept different definitions of masculinity. This year, AXE chose to partner with rapper and Ventura High School alumnus KYLE to bring their Senior Orientation program to Ventura High School.

On Friday Oct. 5, Ventura High School kicked off anti-bullying month with a rally featuring the two performers. When asked why he chose to accept the partnership with AXE, KYLE said, “I really only like to do things that I actually… believe in. That’s the biggest reason I said yes to this. This is something I wish I had when I was in high school.”

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KYLE mentioned the impact that taking part in the drama department at VHS had on him, saying, “Theatre is the study of expressing yourself. When I was in ninth grade, I was so out of touch with my personality, it was crazy… I was so shy and so quit. I was afraid to be Kyle. When I went and started spending time in drama class, it was just such a non-judgemental vibe… It really forces you to come out of your shell. The whole point of the class is teaching you how to be comfortable in front of other people.” He went on to compare it to his time spent with the football team in ninth and 10th grade where “everything said is always tearing someone else down.” To hear KYLE’s full answers to these questions, click the link below.

Gomez performed a poem to kick off the start of the event. To listen to his message, listen to the excerpt below:

After an intro by Gomez, seniors Kaitlyn Hildebrand and Louis Santia performed “slam” poems about their experiences with gender stereotyping and societal pressures. Seniors Josephine Chavez, Sam Coats, Ren Tallent and Micah Wilcox followed with remarks about their commitments to their individual high school communities, such as the drama or music department.

While this might be the most spectacular part, the rally is only the start of anti-bullying month. “The English teachers are going to be doing anti-bullying lessons from Digital Citizenship and also, all teachers have received information on how to have conversations about [cyber-bullying],” said assistant principal Chris Murphy about the month of October.